In 1990, the Quebec Social Research Council - a body financing social research in Quebec, Canada - launched a new policy encouraging the development of social research units within health care organizations. Through financial incentives, it encouraged the implementation of long-term collaborations between researchers and practitioners with the purpose of transforming both scientific knowledge production and professional practices. This paper examines the perceptions of researchers and practitioners regarding the attributes and the usefulness of this collaborative research policy.
A self-administered survey was sent to all the researchers (n = 146; response rate 78.1%) and practitioners (n = 204; response rate 44.1%) involved in the 21 collaborative research teams funded in 1998. T-tests were performed in order to assess the difference between the perceptions of researchers and practitioners in five key dimensions of collaborative research.
The results showed that, contrary to expectations, researchers and practitioners shared fairly similar views regarding the various dimensions of collaborative research. They both agreed that their involvement within collaborative research teams had contributed to the development of new skills and practices but had not facilitated their participation in external activities nor their involvement in networks and organizations that influence environments in which public policies and practices are deployed. They also both encountered some difficulties in putting the dimensions that they highly valued into practice.
Collaborative research within health care organizations succeeded in fostering the implementation of new modes of knowledge production and intervention. Nevertheless, special attention needs to be given to the development of strategies to reduce the discrepancies between values and practices.